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Conservation Matters

Conservation Matters – Conservation Matters is the title of of our conservation column in the bi-monthly OPAS Harlequin Happenings newsletter. We will post our column every two months for you to read.

Reinstalling our Purple Martin Colony   by Ken Wiersema (April 21, 2019)

[Check out this link showing photos by John Gussman of the April 21 Purple Martin nest box reinstallation at 3 Crabs.]

Installing PUMA nest box
Photo by John Gussman

Those of you that have been to the 3 Crabs beach and tidelands since Easter will note that we’ve installed our redesigned Purple Martin (PUMA) nest boxes on the 3 steel pilings placed on the location of the nearly 200 creosote impregnated, timber pilings that were removed last October.  We’ve also installed some new boxes over the wetlands adjacent to the parking area. 

Several of our PUMA team have worked this winter to determine how to use the steel pilings and affix our new tubular boxes, so we could be ready for the PUMA to return and nesting this spring.  We knew that our old wooden boxes were too heavy and bulky to fit the new pilings and we’d have a riskier setup for our team to install, maintain, and monitor. 

Designing as we went, and spending some uncomfortable days in my unheated shop, we produced 18 new boxes and the installation equipment needed to hang them. We had help from Geoff McClain, the WSDOT regional sign foreman, who told us the equipment and supplies we’d need to put flat boards on round steel posts.  And Paul Tucker, owner of Independent Plumbing, who lent us eight feet of 8” diameter plastic drain pipe to perfect our design and practice installation.  We also thank the North Olympic Salmon Coalition for purchasing the tools and materials we used to hang our boxes.

We had a superb dedicated OPAS team: Dow Lambert and Dan Wilson did much of the box cutting and assembling of boxes and became the climbing team who strapped the boxes on the pilings from ladders 14ft above the tideflats.  Laura Davis neatly painted the markings on the tubes and along with Alan Smith, Gary Bullock, and Bob Boekelheide formed the “Sherpa” team that hauled the equipment & tools out and handed it up the ladders.  Chris Perry and John Gussman came along to do the photo documentation of the project.  

Returning tenants
Photo by Chris Perry

The most rewarding part of our installation day occurred 5 minutes after we hung the 1st six boxes and moved to the next pilings — 4 Martins showed up, sang to us a bit, and perched on the new boxes.   We can’t quite claim “mission accomplished” but we appear to be on a success path.  Many thanks to our team and those that helped us along the way…